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Turkey poised to get its first woman prime minister

Tansu Ciller, a U.S.-trained economist, was elected Sunday as leader of Turkey's most powerful political party, virtually assuring her appointment as the nation's first woman prime minister.

Upsetting most predictions, Ciller won 933 votes from nearly 1,170 delegate votes in the second ballot at an emergency DYP congress to win what she called a historic victory.

She polled 574 in the first round, more than the aggregate of her rivals Interior Minister Ismet Sezgin and Education Minister Koksal Toptan, who immediately conceded defeat.

"We have joined hands and changed Turkey's history," she told cheering delegates in a victory speech at a packed Ankara sports hall where few other women were to be seen.

"This is the victory of our unity. The white horse has reared," she declared, referring to the DYP party symbol.

Ciller, 47, is certain to be named prime minister by Suleyman Demirel, who vacated the job last month to become president in place of the late Turgut Ozal.

Ciller told cheering supporters she would be "a mother and a sister for the nation."

Demirel is known as "Baba," or father.

The DYP is the senior partner in a 19-month-old coalition government with the Social Democrat Populist Party.

Ciller received her master's degree from the University of Connecticut and also studied at Yale University. Most recently, she served as economics minister under Demirel.

"I promise you victory in nine months' time," she told DYP delegates, referring to nationwide local elections due to be held in March 1994. "I say I can lead Turkey into the 21st century together with the efficient cadres of the DYP."

She pledged rapid privatization of Turkey's loss-making state economic enterprises to help solve its economic problems.

Although Muslim Turkey is run by a secular government, Ciller will have to cope with increasingly popular Islamic movements.

Some also predict difficulties with Iran, already accused by Turkish authorities of supporting terrorist acts by Muslim fanatics.

She would be the third woman to head a predominantly Muslim country after former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Begum Khaleda Zia, prime minister of Bangladesh.

German Social Democrats choose candidate: Social Democrats voting in Germany's first direct election for a party leader chose the governor of Helmut Kohl's home state on Sunday to lead the attempt to unseat the chancellor next year.

Scharping has been governor of Rhineland-Palatinate state since 1990.

Rudolf Scharping, a 45-year-old pro-business candidate, was chosen party chairman with about 40 percent of the vote. About 57 percent of the 860,000 party members cast ballots.

Party leaders, who hope to build enthusiasm among voters disenchanted with Kohl and his conservative Christian Democrats, were pleased with the turnout.

Abiola takes early lead in Nigeria: A publishing baron running for president won Nigeria's biggest state, partial election returns showed Sunday. His opponent _ who was barred from voting _ lost his home region.

Final results were not expected until at least Tuesday in Nigeria's attempt to transfer power from the military regime to a civilian government.

But the early returns from the Saturday election were good news for Moshood K.O. Abiola of the Social Democrats, who was running against Bashir Othman Tofa, of the Republican party.

An estimated 30 percent of the registered voters cast ballots.

_ Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.